Crolla family legacy

Jan’s mother was born in 1937 in England, more than 100 years after her Great Grandfather was born in Fontitune, a small hamlet outside the town of Picinisco.  Her daughter, who is the family genealogist, wanted to walk the streets of her ancestors and convinced her mother and three sisters to accompany her on this journey of nostalgia.

Say ‘Fontitune’ to anyone in Picinisco and they will ask if you are a ‘Crolla’.  The Crolla family founded this hamlet and they inhabited it almost exclusively for 100’s of years.  It’s deserted now except for the summer months when a few descendants return to spend the summer here. 

As we drove the almost three kilometres to the hamlet I reminded the family that in 1825 when Beniamino was born his father would have walked to the town centre with a newborn baby to register the birth and have the child baptized.   It was cool the day we were there but imagine how it would have been in December of 1825.

Jan had asked me to find the address of the house but since the hamlet consisted of one street only it was really necessary.  The street was VERY steep and while the houses on the left were crumbling and inhabitable, the ones on the right which had a view of the valley had mostly been restructured and formed a dramatic contrast with the derelict homes across the street.  The street was so steep Jan’s mother could only manage half way and we could only imagine how it was ‘back then’ or even now to live here.  Getting a car to the top would be a challenge.  I didn’t even try.

Convinced that her ancestors had made the right decision to emigrate and make a better life for themselves and their families, Jan’s mother was glad she didn’t have to climb that street every day.

To complete our day I had arranged for the church to be opened and had permission to research some records.  There was an emotional moment standing in front of the baptismal font and altar where their ancestors had stood a century before and also while looking at records recorded more than 100 years ago.


As we chatted over lunch Jan told me of a hospital in Manchester, England where a family tree of two Crolla brothers who immigrated to England was on display in the oncology department.  Apparently these two brothers carried in their DNA a gene for breast cancer and in 200 years more than 31 women, descendants of these two men, had died of breast cancer. Many names on the tree indicated which women were most likely to contract breast cancer.  The hospital is not permitted to contact members of the family at risk so if you know of anyone who may be descended from a Crolla, maybe you should let them know of this study.


  1. Hi Ann
    Do you think you can put me in touch with Jan or her daughter please? Crolla’s are part of our family from Piscinesco too and it would be great to talk it through with them – especially as you say Jabs daughter is the family historian!! I am also our family historian – but hardly looked at Piscenesco yet.
    I hope you don’t mind me asking?
    Very best wishes

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. hello, my mother Serafina Crolla grew up in Fontitune and has written a book about her last year there before coming to Edinburgh.” The Wee Italian Girl”


  3. Hi Ann, I’m a distant relative of Crolla’s from Piscenesco and I’d love to get in touch with Ann and/or her daughter. Would you mind asking if they’d be prepared to email me? I’m researching for a novel based on the family…. Many thanks, Matt


  4. Hi Ann. I am a descendant of one of the Crolla Brothers who was never investigated as it was thought he never had children, he actually had 8 children! Geatano Pedro Crolla (aka Peter) was a brother to Vittorio, Eugenio, Gerardo, Marie & Giovanna (aka Johanna) – 2 of them being the named brothers on the BRCA2 cancer gene. They settled in Ancoats, Manchester, known as Little Italy. On the 1881 Census their address was 8 Primrose Street. It took many years of searching but I finally found someone in Belgium who held the Crolla family tree dating back to 1700 (we’ve since gone back to about 1560) He was kind enough to send me the documents of which I have shared to many of relatives who were also trying to find information. It would be lovely to hear from Jan and see where we both are within the very large Crolla family tree. I had the DNA test for the breast cancer gene done back in 2006 and thankfully was negative. Please could you pass my details to Jan. Many thanks. Karen


    • Hi Ann & Karen,
      I am a descendant of Gaetano Pedro Crolla’s daughter Alice and looking for information on the family tree and potentially the cancer testing side of things. I don’t suppose my details could be passed on to both Jan and Karen for some more information?
      Many thanks,


  5. My great great grandmother Maria elisabetta crolla born in picinisco 1821 married her cousin Giuseppe Benedetto crolla he was born in st Pietro infine in 1817,


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